Team cohesion measures how a group of individuals feels connected and driven to achieve a common goal. While everyone has to work as part of a team to some capacity at work, not every team can get along easily or work well together. While it can be difficult to determine how various employees will work together during the hiring process, it often comes as a surprise to a team leader when their group members are not compatible.
However, even in difficult dynamics, it is not impossible to improve team cohesion and gain a strong sense of respect and admiration for other team members. With some determination and work, it is possible to build a cohesive team, even with a difficult team member or two.
This article will outline what team cohesion is, why it is important, and what obstacles may interfere with the way that a team works together. After this discussion, it will dive into practical tips that may help with team cohesiveness and building a successful team. The goal of this article is to help those struggling with team development to find solutions and ideas to move forward.
Defining Team Cohesion
Team cohesion is the ability of a team to work together effectively and creatively on a project or series of projects. It is a business metric used to determine how employees and managers are succeeding with a goal. With cohesive teams, each member is focused and working on team goals and feels as though their input and work are valued both by the team and the organization as a whole, similar to people cheering for the same sports team.
It can be difficult to measure team cohesion without a consistent working relationship with the parties. Still, a good benchmark is the productivity of the team and the rate of turnover. Because it is such a factor in team performance, many companies will use the metric to determine overall employee engagement.
Two main factors influence group cohesion within a company. First, there is the overall input and value that the company or organization adds to the individual employees. The behaviors and attitudes of management will often influence how individual team members feel.
Second, team cohesion is dynamic, meaning that a team’s ability to remain cohesive will shift and change as members and projects change. What worked in one scenario may not always work for another. For a company hoping to begin building team cohesion, both of these factors need to be acknowledged and addressed.
The Benefits of Cohesive Teams
Before we jump into issues that may impact group dynamics or how to create strong team cohesion, it is important to acknowledge several benefits that building team cohesion can bring to a company and a team. Noting the benefits that team cohesion brings to the company can spur senior management and others involved in the decision-making process to focus on creating a cohesive group among employees to contribute to organizational success.
The biggest benefit that a company will see is productivity among highly cohesive teams. When a team can work together toward a common goal, it keeps the team motivated to push forward for more success. When teams are working well together, they can avoid and resolve conflict quickly, which is often one of the biggest barriers to cohesion. When employees can finish a task without conflict or disagreement, they work effectively and contribute to greater business efficiency for the entire company. High-performance teams are a major win in today’s fast-paced economy.
Along with benefiting efficiency and productivity, team cohesion also leads to increased job satisfaction among employees. No one wants to work on a team that lacks a strong sense of purpose or where their self-esteem will be harmed. A group with effective team cohesion will be moving in the same direction and form a strong interpersonal bond. They will experience psychological and emotional safety when they trust the people that they work with. This contributes to employee well-being, which also helps the well-being of the whole team.
Less Oversight, More Autonomy
The more that team members can work together effectively and form positive relationships, the less managers and other bosses will need to manage their work. When employees are engaged and satisfied by the work that they are doing, they will continue to make good decisions to push the team members to excel at the team’s work, meaning team cohesion will continue to contribute to the high-functioning team working on a united front.
Obstacles to Team Goals
Knowing that team cohesion is incredibly important for both employee engagement and the health of the company, it is also important to understand the obstacles that can get in the way of strong cohesiveness among team members. While these will not pop up in every situation, it can be helpful to acknowledge and avoid them to ensure your team continues to run as a well-oiled machine.
One of the biggest obstacles to team cohesion is a competitive environment for employees. When employees are competing against each other, they will often refuse to share skills or participate in team goals. Competition will often be an issue when either a team or the company as a whole values individuals who work for themselves and their success rather than the common goal.
A team cannot work together well if they do not know who the other people on the team are and what they do for each other. This is most common in companies where individual teams are not introduced to other teams that take the projects either before or after another team, meaning that they cannot build team cohesion with other teams and cannot see the bigger picture. When you do not know the people who will take the project after you are done, you have less incentive to create a thorough and worthwhile product for the next step.
One of the more common obstacles to team cohesion is a lack of connection and interpersonal relationships between team members. Someone can’t build trust with another team member if they do not know more about them and their lives outside of work. Team members need to build a foundational level of connection and trust between them before they can buy into team cohesion. This is especially difficult in a remote work environment, but it can be done with hard work.
Tips for Building Employee Engagement
Now that we have an understanding of what team cohesion is, why it is important, and what obstacles may contribute to a lack of team cohesiveness, we will turn our discussion to tips and examples to improve team cohesion. While it is often an uphill battle to take a disengaged team and move toward a common goal, the following ideas may begin to push a team in the right direction.
Set Clear Goals
Because cohesion relies on everyone working toward the same goals and sharing similar values, one of the best ways to encourage employees to build a cohesive team is to set clear goals and values for the workplace. This can include both project- and value-based goals that help orient each team around organizational success and hopes.
Outlining these for employees gives them a clear picture of what is expected and the attitude that the company values when it comes to the workplace and unties them around a shared experience. It also establishes markers for the team to celebrate success when they reach a goal or develop a process in line with values.
To better enhance team cohesion, managers can also ask employees for input on the goals and values that they have outlined. This allows management to see how the team feels concerning the goals and what they may need moving forward. Outlining these goals together can also help the team members create a shared vision for the future together.
Another vital part of a cohesive team is the practice of open communication channels between team members and management. Effective communication among colleagues can look like practicing active listening, prioritizing emotional intelligence, and establishing ground rules for feedback or resolving disputes. Open and honest communication will help in building trust between team members and between employees and management. Modeling effective communication skills and encouraging them will help other team members adopt them and will make the work environment a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
Team Building Activities
When people hear team-building activities, they will most likely think of the painful team-building exercises that they participated in in school or other settings. While some of those activities may help us get to know each other, they do not need to be as terrible as the icebreakers and awkward conversations we were forced to have as strangers.
These activities can include planning a post-work happy hour or a regular shared meal among colleagues. This can help encourage employees to get to know each other outside of regular work hours and environments and help them see each other as people as well as coworkers. As you continue to plan activities and the team begins to get to know each other, the group will build team cohesion and eventually start planning events of their own.
One of the best skills that a manager can have is to employ other employees to foster team cohesion and celebrate each other. This can include delegating tasks to employees that they can handle to help increase their ability to work together. This can include enlisting employees to plan team-building activities or having members work on the shared goals and values of the organization. By involving team members in the planning and execution of certain aspects of the team, they will have a greater sense of pride in the culture they have created, which will continue to impact team cohesion moving forward.
Not every employee will buy into the need for team cohesiveness, but finding ways to encourage team members and employees to care for and support each other will undoubtedly help you create a team that celebrates success together, works toward goals together, and keeps each other accountable for finishing tasks and matching values. Team cohesiveness is a major aspect of employee empowerment and satisfaction, so it is worth the time and effort to create both for colleagues and the organization.
To learn more about team cohesion, mediation, and communication, contact ADR Times here!